Human beings have created dozens if not hundreds of methods to let go of their ordinary hustle and bustle and move inward, closer to an unseen reality. Many of these practices stem from faith traditions, for example praying the rosary as in Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and other denominations. The various forms of Yoga can be connected to religious groups. Some methods such as the popular TM meditation practiced by Dr. Oz and his staff offer programs to help people learn how. Freer from organizational connections is the simple One-Moment Meditation by Martin Boroson.
Whatever the method, spiritual practices have much in common. Overall, there is a release from the outer world and a turning inward to seek a connection to the ineffable, the divine, or the ultimate reality. The experience can be deepened by elements such as music, lighting, scents, and so on. The key factor is that the human being can travel to another dimension, so to speak. The world of habitual everyday life is set aside for a time to journey into another realm, beyond regular routine life. Spiritual practices can provide an array of benefits from simple stress reduction through creative insights and improved relationships to overcoming the fear of death.
One not-so-well-known way to connect with mystery beyond ordinary life is to read poetry. In addition, listening to poetry can be a vehicle into a blissful state. Reading, reading aloud, and listening on a regular basis can produce rich spiritual experiences. Poetry can be found virtually free in libraries, online, and at local poetry readings among many other places.
Often reading poetry sparks the inner fire of writing it, as well. When an individual is open to mind, body, and spirit, any experience whether joyful or painful can be transformed into a state of flow, inviting the gift of a poem. Stafford’s son, Kim Stafford, tells the story of his father arising every morning before dawn. He would sit in a chair in a dim room with his poet notebook in hand, sit and wait for what gift would form onto the page that day. He would follow that “golden thread,” as he called it, as far as it wanted to go. That was his practice, quite a devoted and spiritual one-he wrote that he would trade all his poems for the experience of writing the next one.
Reading poetry and writing poetry can be a path to profound spiritual awareness. Taking this road “less travelled by” has been for many people, including myself, a rewarding practice to explore mystery, wonder, forgiveness, grief and transformation.